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The Ultimate Guide to Eyeliner

June 12, 2020

Whether you were a cat—complete with drawn on whiskers—for Halloween as a child or a tween with a love for grunge (and dark eye makeup), eyeliner was likely one of the first makeup products to make its way onto your face. From there, you probably learned all about mascara, eye shadow, and the like, but eyeliner was a first love. (And you never forget the first.) Surely, since you have quite a few years of eyeliner wearing under your belt, you’re confident in your eye lining talent and knowledge. But no matter where you’d rank yourself in terms of eyeliner skill—novice, beginner, competent, proficient, or expert—it’s never a bad idea to refresh what you know.

That’s why you’ll find this ultimate guide to eyeliner so handy. We’re divulging everything you need to know about the different types of eyeliner, ways to wear it, and shades to sport, plus product recommendations. Stick around—maybe you’ll learn something new!


When it comes to eyeliner, there isn’t just one option. Not partial to pencils? Not a problem! There is a multitude of types of eyeliner, depending on what you’re looking for.

1. Pencil eyeliner: An undoubtedly popular pick, pencil eyeliners serve as an introduction to eyeliner for many. Typically found in two varieties, sharpenable and retractable, pencils are an easy way to define your eyes—even if you don’t possess the steadiest of hands.

2. Gel eyeliner: Whether you’re a fan of more precise or smeared lines, gel eyeliner is perfect for creating both makeup looks. The small pots of pigmented gel glide onto skin with help from angled eyeliner brushes; from there, keep it sharp or smudge it out—it’s all up to you!

3. Liquid eyeliner: It may be considered the trickiest type of eyeliner to master, but liquid eyeliner has an avid following for a reason. Available as either a liquid with a brush or in the form of a pen, liquid eyeliners create meticulous lines that stay in place all day long. And what’s not to like about that?


Tell a makeup artist you want to wear eyeliner, and they could interpret that statement in more ways than you can count. A teeny tiny line, a dramatic cat eye, and more, the possibilities are endless. Find the eyeliner look that best suits your style below.

1. Fine line: Don’t want anything too over the top? Opt for a thin line, right up against your upper lash line. This skinny eyeliner look will be well-suited to natural-looking makeup, while still helping to define your eyes.

2. Thick line: Not everyone wants their makeup to be subtle, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Start with a fine line, then make it thicker. You can even take the eyeliner underneath your eyes too for a rock and roll vibe.

3. Tightline: The “invisible” eyeliner effect doesn’t require a magical pencil. Use your regular old black eyeliner to gently fill in the space just below your upper lash line. It won’t look like you’re wearing eyeliner, but your lashes will instantly appear fuller.

4. Winged out: Adding a flick at the end of your eyeliner is a tried and true way to spice up your look. It may seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Just follow our steps for How to Achieve Your Sharpest Winged Eyeliner Look.

5. Smudged out: If you want to make your eyeliner messy, it’s just about as easy as an eyeliner technique can get. Line your eyes with a creamy pencil or gel, then smudge out with a cotton swab or smudging brush.

6. Floating crease liner: Want to step outside of your comfort zone? Floating crease eyeliner will make it happen. Rather than applying your eyeliner directly to your lash line, as the name suggests, apply a line just above your crease to create a floating effect. Voila, avant-garde makeup!


Black eyeliner may be a classic look, but you can use different shades to play up the color of your eyes. Here are the best eyeliner shades for every eye color.

Brown eyes: You won’t have to stray too far from what you’re used to. Instead of rocking black, try a deep shade with more visual interest, like charcoal or navy.

Blue eyes: It’s often recommended for those with blue eyes to wear blue eye makeup, but that isn’t necessarily best for every day. The warm metallic hues of copper and gold are perfect for all occasions.

Green eyes: If you’re interested in wearing a fun eyeliner color, you’re in luck. Green eyes pair perfectly with violet eyeliner. As for something less bold, try a bronze eyeliner.

Hazel eyes: To determine the best eyeliner shades for hazel eyes, all you need is a mirror. Match the brown and green in your irises to olive or chocolate brown eyeliner.


You’ve taken in a lot of information about eyeliner, but there’s just one more thing to cover—the best eyeliners to apply your newfound knowledge with. Below, we’re sharing the deets on our favorite picks.

L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Last Waterproof Pencil Eyeliner: Everyone’s familiar with waterproof mascara, but what about eyeliner? This waterproof pencil will help to keep your makeup safe through sweating and swimming, even if you use it on your waterline.

L’Oréal Paris Infallible The Super Slim Liquid Eyeliner: With a felt tip, this liquid eyeliner (available in black, brown, and gray) allows you to create precise, smudge-proof makeup looks.

L’Oréal Paris Never Fail Eyeliner: This mechanical pencil provides long-lasting color and a rich, creme formula. It’s even available in white, which can be used to make your eyes look bigger.

L’Oréal Paris Matte Signature Liquid Dip Eyeliner, Waterproof: This liquid eyeliner comes with a precision applicator with a shortened stem that allows you to get closer to the eye, so you can really perfect your looks.

L’Oréal Paris Le Liner Signature Easy-Glide Mechanical Eyeliner, Waterproof: This pencil eyeliner has a unique ink-like formula that’s available in six stunning shades, each of which provides long-lasting fade-resistant, high-impact color. There’s also no need to sharpen this liner, just twist it up as needed.

L’Oréal Paris Infallible Lacquer Liner 24H: This high-shine gel eyeliner comes with a brush, leaving you ready to apply it straight away.

L’Oréal Paris Infallible Flash Cat Waterproof Brush Tip Liquid Eyeliner: Struggle to master winged eyeliner? This eyeliner pen comes with a removable wing stencil so anyone can get their cat eye on.

Next up: Learn 7 Reasons Your Eyeliner Always Smears.

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